it's time for the yearly reflection. the one written traveling in solitude, crossing oceans, finding homes on different continents. it's 2017. another year has passed.
i read through my 2016 diary. 41 pages in a locked up word document. 16 681 words on life. thoughts and reflections-- and feelings. lots of feelings. i read through it all and i can't believe that it all happened during one single year. it felt like a lifetime. at the same time it went by faster than any year has ever done (even though i seem to feel that way every single year). so much that happened, so much that was done, so much that was dreamt about.
as i read through my 16 681 words my heart gets increasingly heavy. i think a lot about how much my thoughts and feelings -- and in many ways, the way in which i view myself -- was based on the judgement of others. how i let myself be defined by others. how i should've processed those definitions better. how i shouldn't have internalized so quickly. how i could fall asleep next to someone every single night, to realize months after that i was being treated like shit. how that happened over and over again. how i let that happen. maybe it was just easier that way. i guess it's just easier letting other people define you. letting them decide what they like and don't like and deciding what to project and what to hide. alone i know nothing, yet i know everything. it scares me.
#1: seven minutes to midnight and feet buried in sand
new years always makes me feel gloomy. this year, i'm sitting next to carlie on the beach, watching the waves crash onto the shore. we arrived in puerto escondido yesterday. spent the day at playa carrizalillo, had dinner at the hostel, and then hitch-hiked to the beach on the back of a pick-up truck. playa zicatela. it's seven minutes to midnight and our feet are buried in the sand. around us people are lighting fire crackers. grace, benja, josefine, and the australian girls from the hostel are chatting in the background. "i always feel super gloomy on new years for some reason", i tell carlie. "why do you think that is?" she asks. i'm not sure how to describe it. still am not. "it’s like.. what the fuck are we celebrating?" i say. "another year passed. so what?". "yeah, i get that...but at the same time, that’s the point, you know? you made it through another year. congrats".
we get up and go back to the others and at 11:58, people have a countdown. "but wait!!! there's two minutes left!!" we yell. too late. josefine has already popped the champagne and is spraying it all over the beach. we shrug our shoulders. whatever. two minutes later, i kiss carlie and we shout "FUCK BOYS!!!!", find a dog at the beach and have our first dog pet of 2017. i'm so happy to have her as my best friend. she's one of the best people i've ever met.
we head to kabbalah, and after an argument between ben and the bouncer, we cave in and pay the 200 pesos entrance fee they have just for this night. angrily we head out to the dancefloor. "sorry i aint got no money i'm not trying to be funny but i left it all at home today". we laugh. how ironic. we sing along to the crappy songs that are playing. "you're on a different road, i'm in the milky way, you want me down on earth, but i am up in space. you're so damn hard to please, we gotta kill this switch, you're from the 70s but i'm a 90s bitch. i love it".
and then we dance our asses off. i don't care, i love it.
i meet a guy from germany. his name is philip and we dance to enrique iglesias together, his snapback covering his bright blonde hair. he tells me he's volunteering in puerto escondido, learning spanish and surfing and teaching little kids. i never ask him what. i meet a guy from cali, who looks like the biggest surfer dude cliché ever. his hair is long and dirty blonde and he is dancing barefoot with a denim jacket. carlie has just talked about him and when i see him, i just know. it's the guy. i grab him and i shout "you're carlie's friend!!!!" and he looks at me with a confused look. after some small talk he swears in crappy swedish, tells me he has a swedish friend, and says "swedish people are all just intelligent and beautiful yeah? free education hell yeah!!!". before he leaves to find his girlfriend he says "you are a beautiful beautiful lady. high five!" and then he wanders off. i never get his name.
at 3am i have lost both of them but found ben, who has just gotten hold of one of the club's new years decorations, a papier-mâché horse, and is contemplating bringing it back to the hostel. we find grace and then we scream our lungs out to pitbull. yeah, yeah, que no pare la fiesta, don't stop the paaardey. i find carlie sitting among the waves crashing onto the shore and then follows a silent cab ride and scrambled eggs at 5am in the morning.
#2: one last goodbye, snowy ski slopes, and sunsets over 9th avenue
so that was new years. that was the transition. let's re-wind.
on the 14th of december, i say goodbye to montezuma for the third time. i listen to beach house on the bus and fall asleep on othmane's shoulder. when we get to the airport, dewey is sitting by the check-in. i run up to him and hug him tight. one last time. our flights don't leave until six in the morning so we gather a group and do an IHoP run. me and sabo share 'swedish crepes' (pannkakor med lingonsylt!!) and when we walk back, me and dewey talk about life. before i board, i hug him one last time. "i'm so grateful to have met you", he tells me. i nod. "i love you so much. we'll talk soon, okay?". and then i'm off.
i sleep all the way to JFK. then i sleep on the subway all the way to port authority. when i knock on the door i'm met with familiar faces and embraces. it's so good to see my family again, and it's so good to have us all gathered for christmas, for the first time in what? five years? i fall asleep to my father's heavy snoring and the blinking lights of the city.
the next day, we leave a slushy nyc and drive to vermont. and then, spending four days overcoming fear of ice patches when snowboarding, long mahjong games with my parents and big brother, and sleeping in wool socks.
we come back to a sunny new york and then starts a balancing college work and family time. when my family heads out to central park on christmas day, i stay in and write supplement essays. when they head off to get groceries i'm finishing up my common app. everything seems a little easier with my computer in front of the new york city skyline. on the day before christmas i wander the city by night, looking for christmas presents but also just breathing the pulse, the diversity, the hasty atmosphere. it feels weird. so different from what montezuma has to offer outside of our campus bubble. nothing like the lavender skies over sebastian canyon on that day before we leave when i go bouldering with hugh, joey, and elias. nothing like the trillion stars over the hot springs when i sit there with lázaro and simen. i'm not sure how to feel. i end up spending three hours outside with nothing to bring back.
on the 29th i submit six college applications feeling eternally relieved, but also anxious. i'm so scared about what the future will bring. that afternoon we eat in flushing. haven't had good chinese food in soo long. and then me and my brother go climbing and i attempt at breaking in the new climbing shoes he gave me for christmas. i end up with huge blisters on my feet but at least i send my first V4.
the day after, i leave the blinking lights from the taxi cabs and the jet-lagged sunrise over hudson river. this is the last time in a while that my family will be assembled, all together. soon scattered across four different places. me in new mexico, my big brother in new york, my father in germany, and my mom and little brother back home, in sweden. leaving my family leaves me with a heavy feeling.
and then i take the subway through a sleepy 10pm new york city.
#3: patterned pants and pretty palm trees - puerto escondido and seven days of paradise
i arrive in mexico city at 5am in the morning. i'm supposed to meet my friends for breakfast but i end up getting stuck in the airplane for 2h instead. when we're finally let out, i'm met by the most confusing airport i've ever been to. "hablas inglés?" i ask in shaky spanish. nope. ok.
my connecting flight to puerto escondido is delayed, but it doesn't say until when. i end up waiting for 12h before we board. when we finally get on the plane, i have managed to find josefine. getting out from the airplane, we're met by palm trees and the warmest breeze i've felt in a long time. we get in a cab and pay 35 pesos for a ride to the hostel, vivo escondido. grace and benja run out, hug us, and then simon takes us on a hostel tour. vivo escondido is amazing; it's white walls covered in colorful art work and the roof top crowded with hammocks and morning yoga. the pool still warm from the afternoon heat, and the bunk beds painted in a bright turqouise. benja and grace has cooked pasta with tomato sauce for us. at 10pm, we decide to take a nap and head out by midnight. me and carlie end up in the roof hammocks and plan to nap. instead we talk about life, about college, about compassion and the importance of listening. about how hard it is sometimes. but she understands. listens patiently.
we never end up napping. grace comes up and asks if we want to go out. benja and josefine apparently won't wake up. we all end up going to bed instead. oh well.
the rest of the days in puerto are just clustered together. mornings (noons) met by intense morning heat, sticky clothing, and watery coffee. dips in the pool and then walking to the beach. coming back after sunset, getting dinner, and getting ready to go out.
one night we go to a raggae bar on the beach. la punta. apparently it's one of the top ten beaches for surfing, according to our new-made italian friend, charlie. after a while, they light a campfire, so me and carlie go and lay down beside it. the flames warm our bare legs and the sand feels nice against our backs. we stare at the stars for a while. carlie points out orion, the three stars forming his waist always visible. then dog pets at the dance floor and "we can't leave now, we need to leave on a good song". we end up leaving on 'jamming' and then walk into the waves crashing onto the shore at 2am in the morning. me, benja, and carlie. hand in hand.
another night it's ladies night on kabbalah. free drinks for all girls from 10-12. me and carlie wear the matching pants we've bought at the market earlier that day. mine are blue and hers are red, and on top we wear black crop tops. ben buys a dirty martini and after he finishes eating his olive, we pour our free drinks into his glass. on thursday we end up there again. the world's best piña colada and two jorge's: one with long blonde hair, one with a heart/skull tattoo on his chest. both of them 22. both of them super nice. what a coincidence.
other nights we spend at the hostel, playing buffalo and getting to know the amazing people there. so many travelers, backpackers, wanderers. people who left everything back home to get out into the world. who ended up liking it in puerto escondido and just... stayed. one night we eat pizza at an italian restaurant in the corner and our waiter, rex, or if it was max, tells us that he came to puerto to stay one night at this one hostel and that it's now been two weeks and that he has no idea what he's going to do in the future. all he knows for now is that he's builidng a house on the hostel roof. it makes me wonder what life should really be about. because what is life, if not this?
i leave the crystal clear ocean and swaying palm trees with heavy heart and dreams of salty hair and sand underneath my finger nails.
#4: "some people are just assholes" and angry greyhound drivers
right before i left home last summer, i failed my driver's test. twice. the first time, i actually did fuck up. that was on me. the second time? no. even my dad, who sat in the car, said i deserved to have gotten my license that time. i did everything perfectly. the reason i failed? one of my mirrors was turned slightly too inwards. and the fact that i was an asian girl who had taken no classes and only driven with my asian dad probably also played a big role. i came home with tears in my eyes and when my dad tried to comfort me, all he said was "some people are just assholes". and that's what i keep repeating to myself half a year later, as we're trying to stop a greyhound bus in el paso.
so. we've spent the night at carlie's friend daniel, in his place in juarez. we crossed the border in the morning, and arrived at the greyhound station half an hour before departure. we don't have our tickets printed, but hey. it's 2017. since when do you ever need printed paper copies? we tell the lady in the counter that we need to print the tickets. it says on the website that you can do that in the counter. she tells us she can't do that. sends us off to the public library, which she claims to be open. it's closed. as me and josefine run into hotel el paso and get them to print our tickets, the greyhound bus is boarding back at the station. we run back with our printed tickets and wave them in front of the driver, who is just leaving. he shakes his head over and over again. me and jose stand in front of the bus so he can't drive and beg him to let us on. we're here. come on. please sir. after getting demeaning glares from his co-workers on the parking-lot, he finally opens the door. "what the hell is wrong with you folks?" he says, over and over again. we have no time to explain the situation until benja tells us our luggage isn't even on the bus. well, shucks. we get off as the driver yells after us. "who do you think you are?!". jesus, sir. just give us two minutes. breathe.
some people are just assholes.
we end up spending 7h in el paso. poor dani has to take us around everywhere. at 5pm we finally board another bus to albuquerque. when we get back to campus, it's already past midnight.
#5: familiar faces and fake facades
it's strange being back on campus. for the first time, i feel ready to leave. that's all i'm going to say.